GameCube: Best 2D Side-scrolling & Platformer Games

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After the beautifully experimental period that followed the release of the Nintendo 64 and the advent of 3D gaming, the GameCube was Nintendo’s chance to continue pushing the boundaries.

Other than the interesting cubic shape (and the handle?), the GameCube is well-known for incredibly high-quality games that took the industry into the future – such as Pikmin and Metroid Prime.

That said, lovers of classic action platformers, side-scrolling shooters, and beat-em-ups can still have a ton of fun with the GameCube. Especially with all the compilations of older 2D titles, along with some gorgeous 2.5D adventure games.

Here are our favorites.


10. Mega Man Network Transmission (2003)

Mega Man Network Transmission gameplay screenshot

The Mega Man Battle Network series is one of the great GBA sagas.

It took the blue bomber to new territory with tactical RPG combat and a focus on collecting battle chips.

Its counterpart on the GameCube takes a back-to-basics approach bringing together the setting and characters of Mega Man Battle Network with the action-platformer gameplay of old-school Mega Man.

It’s a good concept, but the execution feels a bit lacking.

The addition of battle chips and RPG mechanics ultimately detracts from the simplicity of jumpin’ and shootin’. Still, worth a try if you’re a fan of the franchise.


9. Mega Man X Collection (2006)

Mega Man X Collection (2006) screenshot

Here’s a considerably better experience for fans of the blue bomber:

The Mega Man X Collection.

This compilation features all six 32-bit action platforming Mega Man X titles and Mega Man: Battle & Chase, an obscure racing title.

This game has received criticism for its lack of extra content. But still, longtime fans of the franchise will find a lot to love in this convenient catalog.


8. Alien Hominid (2002)

Alien Hominid GCN screenshot

Fans of classic side-scrolling shooters like Metal Slug will love Alien Hominid – a silly game about a cute invading alien taking on the entirety of the world’s combined military forces.

Your trusty blaster will make short work of most human soldiers – but watch out because a single shot can spell the end for you too.

This makes the game pretty challenging, but it’s nothing you can’t manage with some practice.

Even if they get too close, you can always chomp their heads off with your melee attack.

The game even features both co-op and competitive multiplayer.

Plus there’s also a full-fledged side-scrolling platformer in the vein of classic Super Mario Bros. playable on the Alien’s PDA.


7. Sonic Gems Collection (2005)

Sonic Gems Collection for GameCube

Sonic CD is one of the most exciting and unique old-school adventures of the blue hedgehog.

It’s praised for its massive amount of content, superb soundtrack, and time-traveling mechanic – something few games had explored until then.

It was also the first game to feature Metal Sonic and the hero-chasing Amy Rose.

This sterling reputation makes Sonic CD the most significant appeal in the Sonic Gems Collection, though the competition is fierce for fans of obscure Sonic games.

Among others, it includes Sonic the Fighters, Sonic R, and Sonic Triple Trouble.

There are also non-Sonic gems, like Vectorman 1 & 2.

The Japanese version even features the Streets of Rage trilogy!


6. Sonic Mega Collection (2002)

Sonic Mega Collection (2002) GameCube screenshot

The Sonic Gems Collection was the second of two Sonic compilations on the GameCube.

The original Mega Collection dials back the clock further, including almost every mainline Sonic game between 1991 and 1996.

These include the original trilogy, the Sonic & Knuckles games, and smaller titles like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Sonic 3D Blast. It also features two more Sega games – Flicky and Ristar – adding up to 12 titles.

Sonic Mega Collection will give you the most bang for your buck out of every entry in our ranking.


5. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)

Super Smash Bros. Melee / GameCube screenshot

There are more similarities than differences between Super Smash Bros. and a side-scrolling 2D platformer.

It may have 3D graphics, but it has a 2D soul – and the platforming heritage is showcased front and center in SSB. Melee’s lengthy Adventure Mode.

The first level mimics a classic Super Mario Bros. stage adapted to the more violent world of SSB.

There’s also an escape from Planet Zebes with a 40-second time limit and a mad dash in the direction of oncoming traffic along an F-Zero racing track.

Whether you play Adventure Mode or challenge your friends to a fight in Versus Mode, playing SSBM is always a great plan.


4. Mega Man Anniversary Collection (2005)

Mega Man Anniversary Collection (2005) GameCube screenshot

I’ve saved the top spots on this ranking for contemporary games, but there’s one action platformer compilation I still want to talk about.

The MM Anniversary Collection gives players access to the first eight games in the franchise, spanning the NES, the SNES, and the PlayStation/Sega Saturn.

You can also play Mega Man: The Power Battle and The Power Fighters, two 2D fighters that mimic classic Mega Man boss battles.

This is one of the very best ways to experience the entirety of classic Mega Man from the comfort of a single console.


3. Viewtiful Joe (2003)

Viewtiful Joe GameCube screenshot

One of the most famous side-scrolling titles on the GameCube is Viewtiful Joe – developed by Capcom as a love letter to movie buff culture and Super Sentai media.

This platformer/beat-em-up follows Joe – a well-versed movie fan who becomes a Power Ranger-like hero after going inside a magical movie.

He’ll have to beat up a bunch of baddies and solve many puzzles with his newfound movie-themed VFX powers.

These include speeding himself up, zooming in for extra damage, and slowing down the reel while Joe moves at regular speed.

The game shines for its distinctive cel-shaded graphics and challenging gameplay. Absolutely worth a try if you’ve never played it before.


2. Viewtiful Joe 2 (2004)

Viewtiful Joe 2 GameCube screenshot

Once you’re done with the original, you can jump straight into the sequel – which brings more cheesy dialogue, bad-ass cinematic fighting, and an all-new character: Sexy Silvia.

The addition of Joe’s girlfriend as a playable character expands what’s possible in combat and puzzle-solving. She wields akimbo laser guns and has the power of Replay – which lets her record and repeat an action three times.

And this sequel title features the excellent writing of the original, along with even more challenging levels – though it also adds a “Kids” difficulty for those who find it too hard.


1. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (2005)

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat GameCube screenshot

If you’re looking for an experience you can only get on the GameCube, it doesn’t get any better than Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

Like many DK titles before it, DKJB tasks you with retrieving Kong’s banana hoard – but there’s a twist.

You control your character by playing the DK Bongos.

Instead of tapping buttons and using a control stick, you’ll have to do your best impression of a Cuban Bongocero to avoid hazards and collect bananas across 32 levels, including 16 boss fights.

The graphics are pretty good, and the soundtrack is fantastic, so be sure to try this out if you can get your hands on some DK Bongos. eBay might help with that.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.